Charity appeals for cash vote to save Bury project

A Yopey befriender from County Upper School visiting a resident at St Peters House
A Yopey befriender from County Upper School visiting a resident at St Peters House

The founder of a befriending charity is asking people to vote for it to get a grant so it can continue a scheme in his home town.

Tony Gearing, who received the MBE in the Birthday Honours for services to young people, fears that if his charity Yopey Befriender does not win a grant it will have to end its Bury St Edmunds project at Christmas, even though it has scheme running in Sudbury, Wymondham, Watford and Nottingham with another soon to start in Mildenhall.

Tony Gearing, founder of Yopey. 


Picture: Mecha Morton

Tony Gearing, founder of Yopey. Picture: Mecha Morton

The charity, whose name comes from Young People of the Year, trains youngsters to go into care homes and talk to people with dementia.

Mr Gearing explained: “Sadly as dementia changes people’s personality their families find it difficult to visit. Yopey Befrienders fill that gap in the hearts of elderly care home residents.

“The young people also benefit as they learn life lessons and acquire skills that will help their families if they have a loved one develop dementia.”

For the past two years 60 pupils from County Upper and St Benedict’s Schools have visited residents at St Peter’s House residential home in Out Risbygate.

Mr Gearing gained grants to set up the scheme but to continue at St Peter’s or set up other schemes in Bury, he now needs more funding. In other places care homes have contributed to the cost, which he is now making a condition of the schemes.

He is asking supporters to vote for Yopey in the Aviva Community Fund, which has £1 million to give to good causes based on the number of votes they receive.

He said: “Aviva offers us one last opportunity. I will be disappointed if we don’t succeed because I won’t be running one in my own home town.”

If Yopey was to win one of the top grants on offer, it would enable Mr Gearing to begin several new schemes.

Under the Aviva Community Fund voting system everyone who registers has 10 votes.

Mr Gearing said: “I hope you give all 10 to Yopey Befriender but I will understand if you want to share your votes with some of the other great causes.”

You have until November 20 to vote at www.avivacommunityfund.co.uk

Yopey is also interested in hearing from care homes who would like to become involved in a befriending scheme with a local school. Visit www.yopey.org